The Flipped Classroom: Using class time for learning, not presentation

by Stephanie Chasteen on December 5, 2011

I write a lot about teachniques (just coined that phrase, how do you like it?) to get students more interactive and engaged in your courses.  But a lot of teachers aren’t sure how to take the time to do those activities given how much content there is to cover.  As you might be aware, one method that’s been developed to address the time issue is to take a lot of the content “coverage” out of class, leaving classtime for working on a deeper understanding of that content.  This is called the “Flipped classroom,” since the lecture is moved to homework, and homework and other ways to practice the content is moved to classtime. Not that radical — English teachers have been doing this forever.  You read the book at home, and then discuss it in class.

I got to attend a workshop led by one of the people who have led adoption of this technique — Aaron Sams, here in Colorado — a few weeks ago.  I’ve written about it in depth on one of my other blogs that I help author, The Active Class.  Here is a little excerpt from that post:

First, Aaron emphasizes, there is no such thing as “the” flipped classroom.  Every educator can take a different approach that matches his or her goals and classroom setting.  The way that he does his classroom is that he spends 5 minutes on a warmup activity, 10 minutes of Q&A time on the video, and then the rest of the class is spend in guided independent practice and/or labs.
Here’s a short YouTube video to give you a taste:

So, what do you want your students to learn?  Consider:  What do my students need me physically present for that I currently assign out of class, and what I can I remove from class time that my students do not need me present for?  Consider a single lesson to start.  If you want to have students work on problem-solving skills, perhaps model problem-solving in your screencasts.    If you want to guide them through the book reading, perhaps create an online version of the lecture to help cue their attention to the important ideas.

Here are some example types of videos:

  • A lecture (can use pre-recorded ones, like MIT Open Courseware)
  • Video of you demonstrating how something works in real life
  • Video of a lab procedure
  • Guided problem-solving
  • Homework solutions
  • Prelab activity
  • Exam review

You can see a wide variety of example videos on the Learning4Mastery YouTube channel. I highly recommend checking it out — just a few minutes will give you a better sense of what can be done.

Take a look at the full post on the Active Class:  Taking the Content Out of Class for a nice list of some of the tech tools you can use to accomplish this.

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